Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

Anticipating the struggle against everyday impunity in Myanmar through accounts from Bangladesh and Thailand

By Nick Cheesman, Bina D’Costa and Tyrell Haberkorn

Work done internationally to address impunity concentrates on removing blanket amnesties and establishing commissions of inquiry into past atrocities. Everyday impunity—the impossibility of bringing state officers to account for routinised violent crimes against other individuals—gets less attention, even though its effects on public life are insidious. Studying the 2014 killing of a journalist, we identify modes for the production of everyday impunity in Myanmar that emerge from earlier periods of unmediated military rule but that today are coming to resemble practices in neighbouring countries. Accounts from Bangladesh and Thailand reveal how impunity can persist in new political conditions, producing insecurity and hampering efforts for more inclusive forms of government. We close by urging scholars to remain attentive to their responsibilities in the face of impunity, calling on them not to participate in projects that have the effect of concealing violent crime by state officers, and denying victims justice.


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